God, brought to you by Durex 7

At this point I must say that I feel somewhat regretful for criticizing the sex magazine at the center of worship in my last post. I’m now convinced that I should have been encouraging it.

Not because of anything in the feedback, but because whenever you see improvement in behavior, it should be encouraged.

It turns out that the altarpiece was nothing compared to the video the church produced to promote the Sexed series. You can decide for yourself, but I don’t know how you don’t read it as a full-throated endorsement of fornication.

View it here, or check out a couple of screenshots below.

If you were ever told sex is wrong

If you were ever told sex is wrong

You were lied to

You were lied to

Another section says “If you were ever told sex is dirty…you were lied to.” As the text appears, a man opens a box of condoms, selects one and opens it, pulling out and and revealing the condom (I’ll spare you that screenshot, though you can see it on the video). The video ends with a lingering shot of an empty condom wrapper. (UPDATE: If you freeze the video at 35 seconds, it is apparent that the shadow from the top condom is what makes the bottom one appear to be opened and empty. It isn’t.)

The most serious problem here is the textual content, though the visual content is also problematic, but I’ll deal with that in a moment.

The audience for this video is teenagers, almost all of whom are unmarried. That being the case, for them sex is always wrong. It’s not a difficult concept.

The arrogance of the “if you were ever told” line is remarkable. Ever is a strong and important word. The video asserts that there is no context or person who could have ever truthfully told them that sex is dirty or sinful.

Not God, who says so in the Ten Commandments and repeatedly throughout scripture?

Not their parents, who desperately hope their children understand that?

Not their conscience, which surely tells them it’s wrong? (Shoot, even Bill Clinton knew it was wrong.)

Lies. All lies, Newspring tells them. Not, perhaps you misunderstood, but the authorities in your life (former pastors, parents, leaders) all LIED to you.

This smacks of the same disrespect for parents the church paraded with its Parents are Clueless series and billboards (I wasn’t a big fan). The message to kids is that your parents are stupid, lying dolts, but we understand you and we’re cool with who you are and what you do. If I were a parent of a child attending this group and saw what the leaders were telling him or her about my moral instruction, they’d never see my child again and I’d knock on the doors of every other parent I knew with kids in the group.

But, you say, it was an ad to get kids to a series that would tell them not to engage in sex. Very well, but advertising the opposite of what you’re selling is a new and exotic marketing strategy to me. Toyota doesn’t generally promote the Honda Accord to boost sales of its own cars.

The message in this ad stood alone. Unlike the sex magazine on the stage, there is no other verbal message to contradict this. It surely wouldn’t take much for a couple of kids struggling with temptation to use the explicit condoning of sex (so long as you use a condom) to rationalize exactly the behavior the preacher will end up discouraging. Even if they come to the series, it’s at least a week or two before the preacher clarifies (refutes, would be better) the message of the ad. What about all the kids who will watch it online and never go to a meeting? How many teenage boys around the world are bookmarking a message from a church telling them that sex isn’t wrong?

In the feedback I got after the billboards article, and this weekend in response to the indecency post, I’m told by Newspringers that this stuff is a part of culture, so we need to let it into the church. (I disagree, but that’s another post for another day.) The thing with the condom video here is that this is so far over the line that you won’t even find this in our fallen culture. (The comments section is open for anyone to show me a condom ad broadcast on American television that shows the actual condom.) If this were a television ad, you could not find a station or cable channel to run it for you. It’s a shame that television executives have higher standards than some pastors.

Evangelism is not an invitation to depravity.

The text says that sex is not sinful. The accompanying video shows a close up of someone having sex. (If the guy is opening the condom, what would you see if you zoomed the camera out?) A few folk have said that they’d quit the church if they actually did depict sex on stage. Here you go. Just how much of that sex act do you need to see for it to be wrong?

Here’s something I’d like to know. If you were to make an ad that claimed that premarital sex was OK, how would it differ at all from the video Newspring sprung on its kids?

Over to you.

UPDATE: Here’s the third “if you…” line that Caleb asked for.

hurt

7 thoughts on “God, brought to you by Durex

  1. Caleb Mar 9, 2009 11:36 am

    It helps in fairness to add the next screenshots and text that follow (I tried to post the screens but comments don’t allow picture embedding):

    “If you were ever told sex doesn’t hurt anyone…you were lied to.”

    • James Duncan Mar 9, 2009 11:59 am

      The point about sex not hurting anyone is weak and irrelevant, which is why I didn’t reference it in the post. The Bible does not prohibit extra-marital sex because it hurts someone. Sure, that is often the case, but it’s not a principled argument against it. Extramarital sex is always defiling and wrong––which means it’s inherently spiritually hurtful––but I don’t think that’s what the ad is trying to say.

      If that’s the argument, it’s weak and, it seems to me, extrabiblical. All a couple has to do is assure themselves that they’re not, or won’t, hurt each other, and you’ve given them the green light.

      If the argument about not hurting someone is only coming from a wise human leader, you extend the right to others to disagree with you, and they will. You have no more claim on your followers’ assent than Oprah or Dr. Phil.

      • James Duncan Mar 9, 2009 12:07 pm

        One more thought on the third “if you” line. Using it closes off the one defense I think you could make, which is that the ad is referring to marital sex, which is certainly not wrong or dirty. If that is to be the claim, the “doesn’t hurt anybody” line doesn’t fit. Whoever is claiming that marital sex hurts the couple?

        The “hurt” line establishes the context, intended or not, that all three references are to premarital sex, otherwise you have a very clumsy and misleading substituting of terms.

  2. Brad Mar 9, 2009 10:18 pm

    id say that if you watched the entire series… and were actually objective in your approach… then you might have a case— but since you’d prefer sensational tactics on this blog— (like show 3 shots of great piece that hits students right between the eyes)…. then you can probably create some buzz…. or traffic….

    Its easy to show up here and read a slanted perspective and photos taken out of context and get real self-righteous real fast….

    i’d urge readers to hold your judgement until you’ve seen how the entirety of the series came together to bring Glory to Jesus…

    but hey… thats just my humble opinion… His name being glorified might not be all that important to many i’ve seen post on this sight…. just examining fruit….

    • James Duncan Mar 10, 2009 7:44 am

      My tactics consisted of showing and describing the video, which consisted entirely of the man unwrapping the condom. Perhaps someone can explain what context I’m depriving those shots of. I also provide a link to the actual video, which I don’t think can be said to be out of context.

      When it’s all said and done, the condom video will be a part of the overall context that will be added by the sermons. The problem is that at the time the video was shown, nothing had been said so it was all that had been done. My criticism focuses on the period between kids watching the video and hearing the message, if they ever actually do. The video was offered by itself and warrants evaluation on that basis. It provides its own context.

  3. Matt Mar 10, 2009 4:12 am

    Brad.

    I appreciate your love for Christ and NS’s passion for Jesus.
    But, what Mr. Duncan is doing is just pointing out a doctrinal issue (which I don’t have to explain or defend because Mr. Duncan has already relayed that message). He is not doing it out of hatred or conceit but living out Proverbs 27:17. It is healthy and biblical to take in considerations.

    Questioning his Kingdom mindset is a personal attack and is unnecessary. I know Mr. Duncan, and see him every day of the week. He has a Kingdom mindset, the fruit is there.

    Praise God for the salvations that have occurred during the “Sex-Ed” series. Keep in mind though, it’s not you who is bringing those kids to Christ.

    Peace and Grace.

  4. Tommy F. Mar 10, 2009 2:21 pm

    Brad:
    I’ve stopped laughing long enough at your 3/9 comment to provide a reply. A blogger bemoaning sensational tactics and buzz – that’s funny. Really.

    You wrote: “but since you’d prefer sensational tactics on this blog— (like show 3 shots of great piece that hits students right between the eyes)…. then you can probably create some buzz…. or traffic….
    Its easy to show up here and read a slanted perspective and photos taken out of context and get real self-righteous real fast….”

    Problem #1: the “taken out of context” bit — there is no context. It’s a teaser, an ad, designed to make people take interest in the series. How could it be seen/read any other way? In fact, the ad alone could just as easily be for a condom company or advocating their use. You are using a condom ad to sell your series. What’s next, a used one?

    Problem #2: the “sensational tactics … create some buzz or traffic” bit. This is a double standard. The ad itself was created and shown precisely for this reason. It’s edgy and provocative with the goal of creating buzz or traffic. If it was not the intended purpose, then you could have gone a totally different route – a simple announcement would have worked if you simply wanted to advertise the topic. So, if the logic is sound so far (and feel free to correct it) you must think it’s acceptable to use these “tactics” when you’re NS (or a church, or a Christian, or trying to reach lost people), but it’s unacceptable when writing a blog? This certainly flips the argument on its head: typically a church would use discretion, whereas a blog might not.

    Problem #3: The shots are yours. He didn’t alter them, but instead sent people to see the original – which by the way generated more traffic, and probably more buzz. Any buzz the blog is getting related to these postings are related to your ministry and your online material, which should be helping your exposure. Of course it might not be the type you’d prefer. Maybe this is your complaint.

    Problem #4: you wrote: “if you … were actually objective in your approach” It must be nice to be so objective. Why don’t you read these comments (mine and others) in such a light? Consider the words typed, the meaning conveyed. I’m afraid I realized a while back – no one is objective. It’s impossible. But, maybe you’ve achieved it. Please demonstrate.

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